SursWorld

Food and some stories....

Author: Suranjana (page 1 of 4)

Hong Kong food adventures- Dan Tai Fung, Causeway Bay

Who can resist good food, well I certainly can’t. And Hong Kong is a foodie paradise, be it street food, Michelin star restaurants or five star hotels. Food is everywhere and it tempts and entices and you don’t mind spending your last dollar for the enticing array of food available.  I have been eating my way through Hong Kong and  have not been disappointed in any single place, be it a hole in the wall or a fancy Michelin starred restaurant. As I navigate this city I will be sharing with you all a few of my favourite places, in no order and if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, do let me know how the experience was for you. So here goes the first of my Hong Kong food adventures.

My first day in Hong Kong and I happened to be near Dan Tai Fung a Taiwanese restaurant (the Yee Wo Branch) specialising in xiaolongbao (steamed dumplings). The restaurant chain is legendary and in 1993 was voted one of the top ten restaurants in the world by the New York times. In 2009, its first Hong Kong Branch at Tsim Sha Tsui was awarded one Michelin star and in 2010 the Yee Wo branch was also accorded the same honour.

So even though we were not very hungry, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and we decided to check out the place. Although the Easter holidays were going on and the place was packed with weekend crowd; their electronic queuing system and viewing the menu and filling the order form before you are shown to your table helps in making the process smoother.  As a result of which the service was  fast and efficient; the waiting period was hardly a pinch.

Since we were not hungry we ordered three dishes, the prawn xiaolongbao, the sautéed water spinach with garlic and the vermicelli soup with fried bean curd and pork rolls.

Vermicelli soup with fried beancurd and pork rolls

Vermicelli soup with fried beancurd and pork rolls

Sauteed water spinach with garlic

Sauteed water spinach with garlic

Pork Xiaolongbao

Pork Xiaolongbao

I found the food to be very good with generous portion size and without pinching the pocket too much. A meal for two will cost you HKD 100$-200$ without drinks.A definite visit if you are in the neighbourhood.

 

Current pit stop-Hong Kong

A long hiatus from the blog, and I had almost given up on it. And then suddenly out of the blue the number of readers on the blog suddenly started jumping and that was just the kind of motivation I needed. So, the story of my life right now is that the husband is temporarily stationed in Hong Kong for a work project; and I have joined him. It’s been only five days that I am here in Hong Kong, and obviously, there is lots to do and lots to discover.

We are staying here in an executive apartment and in terms of cooking I have very limited means which means I have no blender, no oven and literally a one burner induction stove. So, have stuck to just cooking the odd breakfast and pan fried food. Also, I must add I have just one pan and one pot that have been provided to us by the apartment. Didn’t make sense for us to set up an entire kitchen for a month or two. Which is a pity cause the variety of produce is sensational and  my hands itch every time I visit the local markets. Will, keep you all updated on my limited culinary adventures in my mini kitchen.

But as always there is a silver lining always, Hong Kong happens to be the city blessed with 58 Michelin star restaurants and I promise to share reviews of quite a few with you all. I am not sure I am really qualified to do reviews of restaurants, so let me put it this way, it will be more like sharing of my culinary experiences. So, stay tuned and I hope you enjoy the coming ride.

Till then ciao from Hong Kong.

Asian noodle salad

It’s the New Year, and I think I have to finally break the self imposed exile from the blog and before I forget wish you all a very Happy New Year!!!  My last blog post was about salads and I had promised all of you three salad recipes.  Today I am going to share a very interesting Asian noodle salad recipe and after having it you will never find salads boring ever.The best part about this salad is that it’s hot, spicy, very refreshing for the palate and is a complete meal in itself. Since trying out this recipe I have already made it twice in the space of two weeks, that’s how awesome it is. And I make it in huge quantities, so there are lots of leftovers; you can eat it straight out of the fridge.

My inspiration for this salad is Thai food and the secret to this is the dressing. Once you get the dressing right, you mix and match with any vegetable combination that you might be fond of. Also I insist on the rice noodles, you can try with other noodles but it’s just not the same. I have used shrimp, but you can substitute it with any other protein like leftover chicken or fried tofu. Alternatively skip it altogether for a lighter version.

Asian Noodle Salad

Ingredients

Dressing

¼ cup lime juice

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 tsp grated ginger

Couple of large garlic cloves

4-5 Thai red chillies (you can change the amount depending on the level of hotness desired)

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp vegetable oil/olive oil

1-2 tbsp fish sauce

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Salad

350 Gms of rice noodle/ rice vermicelli

Quarter of small cabbage thinly sliced

Half a carrot finely julienned

1-2 Thai red chillies thinly sliced

2 large scallions thinly sliced

½ cup roasted peanuts coarsely chopped

Salt

200 Gms shrimps

Some Thai basil finely chopped

Some fresh mint leaves finely chopped

Fried onions (optional)

Instructions

In a bowl combine the lime juice, rice vinegar and ginger, I usually like to mince the garlic and chillies together with a pestle and add. Add the balance ingredients listed under dressing and mix well. You can change up the quantities as per your taste, depending how spicy or sweet you would like.

Cook the noodle as per the directions in the package. Season the shrimps with salt and sauté them in a little oil till pink, which usually takes about a minute and a half each side, for medium sized shrimps. Place the noodles in a large salad mixing bowl and the veggies, and the herbs and the peanuts. Pour the dressing and toss to coat well. Season as per taste. Add the shrimp and garnish with scallions and peanuts and fried onions.*

 

*to make fried onions chop onions and fry them in oil till brown , soak excess oil and air dry.

Watermelon and Feta salad

Around the world, people are celebrating the arrival of cold weather and with it warm soups and rich food to warm the body and mind. Well we in Mumbai beg to differ from the world, so while everyone is preparing for fall, amchi Mumbai has been clocking 34 degrees every day, hardly fall you would agree!! Which is why I can still relish watermelon and feta salad; one of my favourites and probably the easiest things you will ever make. I’m not sure if it qualifies as cooking!!!

This salad is so refreshing, it’s better than ice cream in my book. It looks like a dream and tastes like heaven in your mouth. Perfect for those long hot summer months; when all you want to do is drink lots of water and avoid anything heavy. It’s healthy and delicious, perfect combination in my book.  And it works because of the contrast of the flavours, the sweet watermelon and the salty feta.

What do you need,  a watermelon, some feta cheese and some herbs. This salad needs to be eaten fresh, and by that I mean, make it and eat it. You cannot let it sit, as watermelon, releases a lot of water, the longer you wait, more watery it will become, and the flavours will be lost. So I would recommend that you assemble the ingredients but wait to make the salad; right before you eat it.

Let’s make it

Ingredients

1 small Watermelon cut into cubes (preferably deseeded)

1/3 cup olive oil

2-3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup chopped fresh mint

1 and ½ cup crumbled fresh feta cheese.

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful fresh parsley

Method

In a small bowl, mix together the oil, vinegar and salt and pepper to make the dressing. Pour it over the cut watermelon along with the chopped mint, toss gently to coat.

Add the crumbled feta cheese and the parsley and blend in gently to integrate without losing the texture of the cheese. Serve.

Watermelon and Feta salad

 

 

 

Salad days-Crunchy green salad

You know what I really enjoy in my travels through Europe, the amazing variety of salads in the menu, using fresh local produce. Eating healthy and clean has never been easier. Unfortunately my salad making skills were limited to mixing cucumber, onion and tomatoes together in a lime dressing, what in India we call kuchumber; nice but everyone gets bored with the same old! So I have been consciously trying to make new and fresh salads everyday at home, so eating clean doesn’t have to mean travelling to Europe!! 🙂 So in the  next few blogs I will share with you all the new salads that I have been attempting to make. And today we will start with the most simplest of them all, I like to call the crunchy green salad.

This kind of salad can be a great accompaniment to any meal, as a side; or add a protein like chicken or smoked salmon and you can make it a main too. It totally depends on what you are in the mood for; I am just equipping you with the basics, like the building blocks of a great salad.

I have used a mix of greens, like arugula, different kinds of lettuce, rocket and some purple cabbage leaves, as the base, you can choose any you like. Do remember to wash them well, dry with a kitchen cloth and tear them to bite size.

The secret to a good salad, and especially my crunchy green salad is some nuts to add the crunch element, and I have used some candied walnuts; you can use  roasted walnuts or roasted pine nuts for that additional zing to a simple salad. However I would recommend trying the candied walnuts, it takes the salad to another level. For how to make candied walnuts click here.

Crunchy Green Salad

Ingredients

100 gms of mixed greens

Finely shredded carrots

Candied walnuts

Handful mint or basil

Salt and pepper for taste

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp cider vinegar

½ tsp honey

Grated parmesan shavings

Crunchy Green Salad

Method

First  start by making the dressing, slowly pour the oil in the vinegar and blend in, add the honey. I usually add the salt and pepper after putting in the greens; you can add the salt to the dressing and taste it before proceeding.

Blend the vegetables with the dressing add the herbs, and finally the nuts and the cheese just before serving. Crunchy green salad is ready to be devoured.

 

Moist Banana Muffins-for Diwali

Diwali is almost here, literally knocking on the doors and I cannot contain my excitement. Since childhood this has been my favorite festival, and I look forward to it every year. The lights, sweets, everyone in their brightest attire, I love it all. So what am I serving my guests this Diwali, apart from the candied walnuts we made last time? Some warm muffins, yes moist banana muffins. Time for some new ideas, and muffins it is.

The good part, they have fruit in it, I make it with brown rice flour, (you can use whole wheat or all purpose too) and raw sugar, so it’s definitely healthier than the store bought options, and the kids just love it. It’s a great breakfast and snacking option. And believe me your guests will bless you for serving something different this festive season.

Let’s dive into the recipe.

 Moist Banana Muffins

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups brown rice flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

4 ripe bananas, mashed

¾ cup raw sugar

⅓ Cup olive oil

1 egg

½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven at 170 degrees C, and line your muffin tray with muffin cups or grease with butter.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then mix together the wet ingredients, banana, oil, egg and the sugar. Fold the banana mixture with the dry flour mixture gently, till all is incorporated well. Add the chocolate chips.  Put the mixture in the muffin tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. You can check by inserting a toothpick in the middle, it should come clean, that means your muffins are done.

Moist Banana Muffins

Moist Banana Muffins

Candied Walnuts-Diwali beckons

You know it’s Diwali around the corner when you suddenly notice twinkling lights everywhere around. Shops start screaming discounts, and all around there is lots, I mean lots and lots of sweets. But when it comes to food the traditional is becoming passé and more and more we are moving towards purchasing Diwali sweets. Traditionally our moms used to make mithai at home, and I know that with our busy lives its not always possible to do that all the time. But what if I told you could make something sweet at home literally in 5 minutes, sweet and unique! Candied walnuts; dry fruits anyways have become a part of gifting in Diwali. Yours would be different and way better.

Lights

Lights

The great part about this recipe apart from the fact that how quickly you can make it, is that it’s a great snack, is awesome with salads, can be put in small glass jars and can be a very thoughtful diwali gift too! And I like it better than caramel popcorn. You just cannot stop at one, I challenge you.

Recipe-Candied Walnuts

Ingredients

1 cup walnut
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter

Method

Put a non stick pan on the gas; add the butter, followed by the sugar and walnuts. Keep on stirring everything over medium heat for 5 minutes. When the sugar starts melting, stir well so that all the nuts are coated properly.

Once done, transfer immediately to a parchment paper, and start separating the nuts so that they do not stick together. You will have to move quickly otherwise you will end up with a big blob of nuts. And yes the parchment paper is a must, if you want to avoid a sticky mess.

Once it cools, you can store in an airtight container.

Candied Walnuts

Candied Walnuts

 

 

 

Bulgur wheat pilaf with chickpeas and tomatoes

We all would like to eat healthy but delicious food, I know for a fact that people are scared of healthy eating thinking it will be just be plain salads and soups. But we can eat healthy by incorporating more whole wheat grains in our diet. Epidemiological studies find that whole-grain intake can be protective against health conditions like cancer, heart disease, digestive disorders, diabetes and obesity. Bulgur wheat, sometimes also called cracked wheat, is a lesser-known type of whole wheat durum grain. Compared to refined carbohydrate foods made with enriched or refined wheat, bulgur wheat is a much better source of vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

The difference between bulgur and most types of wheat flours used in many packaged products is that bulgur hasn’t been stripped (or “refined) of its bran and germ, which are where many of the nutrients are actually stored within a whole grain. Also it’s naturally cholesterol free.

Now that we know it’s good for us, how do we eat it? Bulgur is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and used in salads, kebabs and pilaf. Readers of this blog will know that I have earlier shared the recipe of Turkish kebab using bulgur. Today I will show you how to make a pilaf. It’s a simple hearty recipe that can be eaten just like that or goes well with yoghurt or as an accompaniment to any meat dish as served in Turkey.

Recipe:Bulgur wheat pilaf with chickpeas and tomatoes

Ingredients

2 tbsp oil for cooking

1 red onion finely chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped( I used a green one as didn’t have a red one at home, red pepper just adds to the color of the final recipe)

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp cinnamon powder

Chilli flakes as per taste

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 cup bulgur

1 can chopped tomatoes (I have used canned for convenience, you can use fresh tomatoes)

¾ cup vegetable stock or chicken stock

1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight and boiled

Salt and pepper as per taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Method

Heat oil in a pan and add the onion and pepper cook for 6-8 minutes till you can see the onion turning translucent. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, chilli flakes and the tomato paste, cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the bulgur and stir well so that it well coated in the mixture. Add the chickpeas, tomato, stock , and salt and pepper; let it come to a boil on high. Reduce the heat and cover it for ten to fifteen minutes. Before serving garnish with the mint and parsley. Tastes awesome hot, but goes well as a salad, cold too.

Bulgur wheat pilaf

Bulgur wheat pilaf

 

 

Fresh Basil Pesto

You all will remember from my earlier posts my fledgling attempts at organic kitchen gardening, and finally I have something ready that I can use for all my cooking experiments and I am over the moon. I always dreamt of having garden fresh herbs at my disposable, and I am proud to say that I now can use fresh basil and parsley from my garden. And fresh basil calls for home made basil pesto, better than any store bought jar of pesto. And once you have made it fresh, believe me; you will never buy a bottle of pesto from the supermarket.

Fresh Basil from the garden

Fresh Basil from the garden

For the past few weeks, I have also been kind of obsessed with my garden, if you can call all the balcony and window sill planters that ; well for future reference that’s what I would like to call them. And I am sure all my plants would be gravely insulted on hearing anything otherwise. Well on last count apart from the herbs, I am trying to grow, spinach, lettuce, tomato, eggplant, radish and carrots. I love to see the green shoots coming out when I wake up in the morning, and see them growing taller day by day.

Now over to the pesto, as basil is a very strong aromatic herb, what I have done is substituted half with baby spinach leaves, it will make the flavour less strong and also helps you retain the vibrant green colour, which is lost after a day when stored in the fridge if using only basil.

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (can substitute half the basil leaves with baby spinach)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts (can substitute chopped walnuts)

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

Pulse the basil leaves and pine nuts in a food processor several times, add the garlic and the cheese and pulse several times.

Fresh Basil Pesto

Add the olive oil slowly and not all in one go, so that it emulsifies properly; season with salt and pepper. Thats it, fresh pesto is ready. Time for some pasta dinner maybe, also goes well with potatoes, or just like that with some crackers.

 

 

From Bali to Bangkok

So I have been away from the blog for some time now, as I was travelling to Bali & Bangkok. And now I am back with my travel bug satiated, new foods tried and taste buds set ablaze with the spicy food of Indonesia and Thailand. Travelling for me has always about tasting the local food; I’m not somebody who goes looking for comfort in familiar food. Food is a cultural experience for me, and there is nothing more exciting for me than eating local in a new place. Sitting in a cafe, observing the local people go about their lives and gorging on local food, that is for me my perfect holiday moment, and I never get bored doing that.

As you travel through South East Asia, you will realise that food habits and some ingredients are familiar across countries, there will be regional variations but also lot of familiar produce. Especially across the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Rice is the staple across the region and also close proximity to the sea means lots of fresh seafood. While this was my fourth visit to Thailand, it was my first to Indonesia.  And I am happy to share that I come back with lots of bottles of sambal and other spice mixes. About Sambal, Iam a fan!!!

For the uninitiated, Sambal is basically a hot sauce made with chillies and other ingredients like ginger garlic, peanuts, fish sauce, shrimp paste, vinegar, onions, fish sauce etc. There are roughly 300 varieties of sambal that is prepared in the Indonesian archipelago, not accounting for every home having their own version. So basically every place I ate in Indonesia, or more specifically in Bali, had their own version and I loved them all. But be prepared for the heat, it’s not for the faint hearted, but is more tolerable when eaten with rice or other accompaniments like salads or seafood. As I mentioned earlier about the similarity about food habits earlier in the blog, you will also come across sambal being used widely in Thai and Malaysian cuisines.

Traditionally made at home with pestle and mortar, today you can buy your own from any supermarket and is available all around the world. It can be a great substitute to your regular ketchup in the pantry. And hopefully in the coming months I would be able to use it in some recipes which I can then share on the blog. So do look out for some upcoming spicy, Indonesian inspired recipes on the blog soon. Meanwhile enjoy looking at my stash, Ciao!!

My Sambal stash

My Sambal stash

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